Everywhere you look
I think people would agree that this month does not feel like a month of blessing. Even before the country was hit by floods, most of our population had been living hand to mouth.
A few days back I spoke to a political analyst who very blatantly said, “Pakistan is an economic basket case”. And while anything to do with economy and finances usually goes over my head, the statement was jarring enough to get me thinking.
The government has failed, once again, to ensure a curb on hoarding and overcharging. The Ramazan relief package worth Rs2 billion announced by the government last month, is yet to take effect.
I think most people would agree that this month surely does not feel like a month of blessing. Even before the country was hit by floods, most of our population had been living hand to mouth.
Now, with prices rising, in some cases up to an alarming 100 per cent from last year, and millions of acres of lands completely inundated, the miseries of most of the population have intensified.
Tomatoes are being sold for Rs60 per kilogramme, whereas last year they were for Rs32. Sugar is priced at Rs79 per kg against Rs35 in 2009. Chicken is being sold for Rs240 to Rs260, while it was available for Rs110 and Rs144, last year. For those of us who don’t necessarily think about the materials rather the final product – Ramazan deals in restaurants are not below Rs950 to Rs1000.
With inflation soaring high, the essence of Ramazan seems to be lost. Patience and generosity have taken a back seat to desperation and instability.
Before the first of Ramazan, people rushed to draw out money from their accounts, to evade the zakat deduction. With an absent leadership, it is expected that people will fend for themselves.
Most of us can’t even begin to imagine how it must have felt when a flood affected man said, “It will be a great day when our children can eat”. He was quoted in an article published a few days ago.
Keeping that in mind, the ‘excitement’ that Ramazan entails, around Sehar, Iftar and Eid, seems to be missing this time round.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2010.